Grammar is a very important aspect in modern communication and living. Grammar may seem simple from the way we normally communicate on a daily basis but it is made up of distinct components that need to be combined with respect to each other in a bid to get the best out of them and still be reasonable in what one is communicating.
One part of speech is nouns. Nouns are words that work as the name of some distinct thing or group of things for instance objects, places, or ideas. Grammatically, nouns are components of an extended part of speech that function as the main word in the subject of a clause. Parts of speech are generally explained in terms of how their components combine with the other parts of a sentence.
The combination rules for nouns differ greatly from language to language. Nouns also tend to have different categories in different languages. In fact some languages categorize nouns with respect to gender, they can either be male or female.
To understand nouns better, it is important to know their history. We can trace this aspect of english grammar back to the fifth century when parts of speech were first described and nouns were one of four main parts of speech. During those ancient times word classes were generally defined by the forms they took. For instance, in Greek and Latin, nouns were categorized by gender case and number. However due to the fact that adjectives also could be classified under these categories this led to adjectives being classified under the same category as nouns.
Since then several analyses have been done to grammar and nouns were eventually distinguished from adjectives. However this distinction largely varies with how these words are used in phrases with respect to other parts of speech. They however, are frequently explained mostly in formal situations in terms of their meanings.
The common definition of nouns, simply as words that are used to name things has been largely criticized as being very shallow due to its lack of sufficient information. Experts prefer instead to define nouns with respect to their formal characteristics such as their information content which may involve things like what prefixes and suffixes the nouns take and how they combine with other parts of speech. However such definitions may turn out to vary from language to language since the manipulation of nouns varies from language to language.
The word noun is a very general word due to the fact that there exists several nouns with different characteristics and properties. This led to the need for classification of these nouns according to similarities in what they represent and how they can be manipulated when interacting with other parts of speech when forming the final sentence or phrase.
The first category of nouns that comes under discussion is the proper nouns. These nouns can also be referred to as unique nouns. As their name suggests these nouns represent very unique individuals compared to all the other classes of nouns. Examples are Mercedes, Neptune, Kenya and Jack, among others. In general they stand for words that define names of individuals, names of brands of products, names of distinct things such as planets, names of countries, states, counties and other geographical locations, names of animals and many others.
The category that is directly related to proper nouns is common nouns. This category of nouns represents a class of individuals compared to the unique representation of proper nouns. These are generally the common things that we encounter with in our day-to-day activities. Examples are nouns such as car, city, man, woman and planet. These nouns are related to proper nouns in the sense that they represent the classes to which the proper nouns fall under. For instance car is a common noun while a Mercedes is a unique brand of car that falls under the class of cars, the same way Neptune is a unique planet that fall under the class of planets. This explains the relation between these nouns in the sense that common nouns like in the case of a planet refers to any planet, while Neptune narrows it down to a specific planet called Neptune.
The other class of nouns that comes under discussion is countable nouns. These nouns as their name suggests stand for nouns that can simply take a plural form or be combined with numerical quantifiers effectively. Examples of numerical quantifiers include several, many and most among others. Countable nouns also possess the ability to combine with indefinite articles such as a, an and in languages that possess such articles. Examples of countable nouns are bottle, boy, and car among others. These nouns can take plural form for example bottles, boys, cars comfortably and also can blend well with numeric quantifiers for instance several bottles, many boys or every car among others.
The category within english grammar that is antagonistic to countable nouns is uncountable nouns. These nouns are also referred to as mass nouns or non count nouns. They differ from countable nouns in the sense that they can neither take plural form nor effectively combine with counting quantifiers. Examples are furniture, water, milk, and blood to name a few. Most nouns that stand for substances that take a fluid form can be deemed as uncountable nouns. This category of nouns may be tricky because some of the nouns in this category can’t be quantified even if the individuals being represented by the noun can be counted. It is therefore advisable that one be keen since the distinction between mass and countable nouns should be analyzed with what things the nouns point to rather than how the nouns represent these entities. Many nouns have also turned out to possess both countable and uncountable forms, for instance the noun beer. Beer can be deemed countable in the phrase “I took five beers” and at the same time be uncountable in the phrase “she hates beer”. It is therefore important that one be careful when categorizing these nouns, as they can be mind-boggling at times.
Collective nouns are also another category of nouns that needs to be put under discussion. As the name suggests these are nouns that refer to groups that consist of more than one individual under them. It is worth noting that these nouns still represent individuals that are in plural form even if the noun is in singular form itself. Some examples are nouns like fleet, herd, and crowd.. These nouns are kind of unique from other nouns since they can serve as the subject of a collective element in the noun phrases they head, even when they are inflected.
Concrete nouns are another category of nouns and as the name suggests they represent nouns that are physical and can be tangible. The nouns under this category should be able to be noticed by at least one of the five senses of a human being. Examples are common things we interact with on daily basis like food, hair, and chair among others.
The english grammar category that is the direct opposite of the concrete nouns is abstract nouns. As their name points out these nouns are abstract and only stand for feelings, concepts, notions, ideas or imaginations. Examples are nouns like hatred, innocence, love, and justice. The distinction of these two categories of nouns may turn out to be tricky at times due to the fact that some nouns may be able to fit in both categories that may turn out to be both abstract and concrete at the same time. A good example is the noun art. Art may be concrete in the sense that a specific piece of artwork may be tangible and may also be abstract in the sense that art is a concept that cannot be touched. It is also worth noting that in English many abstract nouns may be formed from adding certain suffixes to adjectives and verbs. For instance adding the suffix –ness to the adjective greedy, forms the noun greediness.
Noun phrases are based on nouns, often, but not compulsory to be accompanied by modifiers. A noun phrase may serve as a subject, object or complement depending on how it has been used in a sentence. For example, The white dove landed on a dear friend of mine, the noun phrase ‘the white dove’ serves as the subject while the noun phrase ‘a dear friend of mine’ serves as the object of the sentence. Types of words known as pronouns can effectively replace nouns. This helps avoid repetition of nouns when there is a need to use them multiple times. Examples of pronouns are he, it, she, and they. In some cases the word one can also serve as the function and stand for a noun when there is a need to avoid repetition.
From the above overview of nouns it is obvious that one should know how to manipulate them in one’s modern day-to-day activities. English grammar and modern speech largely relies on how we manipulate this part of speech.
What do you think?